Samgyetang, Korean Chicken Soup

I finally got around to making some samgyetang, another of my favourite Korean dishes. Samgyetang is Korea’s version of chicken noodle soup, and it just so happens to also fit in with my candida-destroying diet I’m on right now too.

I recently went to visit an Ayurvedic doctor who diagnosed my pitta dosha (which is my ayurvedic body type) as out of balance, and prescribed a strict diet to sort me out. The diet doubles as a candida diet to rid the body of excess candida yeast. So far, it’s been working pretty well I think, and it has challenged me to come up with meals that are tasty and that fit within my guidelines. The restrictions sound scary (lots of no’s: no refined flour, no yeast, no red meat, nothing fermented, no dairy, no caffeine, no sour, no sugar), but I haven’t really felt deprived. There’s a lot one can do with vegetables, chicken, shrimp, and whole grains.

So samgyetang, healthy and delicious — the best I ever had was in a restaurant in Seoul in the tourist district of Insa-dong. The key to the flavour and nourishment of this soup is the herbal blend. I picked up a package of mixed herbs at Seoul Mart that had everything I needed for the soup. The package contained antler, astragalus, garlic, jujube, angelica, ginseng, and Japanese raisin tree bark. Sound appetizing? The dried herbs definitely have the smell of a Chinese herbal shop.

They are, however, the most important part of the soup. You can do without the antler and the astragalus and the tree bark, but you need the ginseng and the jujube for sure. Other recipes or blends add gingko nuts as well. I bought a couple of cornish hens to use for the soup. After washing them well, I stuffed about a quarter of a cup of uncooked short grain rice inside the bird, along with a couple of garlic cloves. Then, into the pot it all goes to boil for at least an hour.

As the soup is simmering, skim off fat and scum. Then, when it’s done, all you need to do is place the chicken in a bowl, ladle some broth on top, and serve up with chopsticks and a spoon. Add some salt and hot pepper paste if you want an extra kick.

It’s definitely a different experience, having a whole bird to dissect with your chopsticks in a broth that has tree bark floating around in it, but I find it quite enjoyable. I just wish I could return to Korea for the pro samgyetang experience. A food tour of Korea is definitely high on my if-I-ever-win-the-lottery list.



  1. I remember this soup well as when Robyn & I visited you in Korea, Yowan (sp?) took us all to this little back alley restaurant!! The soup was delicious – an you are right about dissecting the whole chicken – it is an experience, but a delicious one!

    Your display looks very impressive – good enuf to eat, in fact!!

  2. Wow, This i would actually try….Though i can’t even pronounce majority of the ingredients and would find it very weird to scoop broth inbetween twigs in my soup.

    And that’s just way to much chicken for 1 sitedown.

    You didn’t add Salt did you?

    And your able to have Hot Pepper Paste?!?

    I would like to try this.

    • I admit, boiled chicken doesn’t look that appetizing. The chicken was very tender and moist though 😉
      Eggs white got the okay. Sadly, not the egg yolks. I love runny yolks. But egg white omelettes aren’t so bad. I don’t like to waste the yolks, so I tried the carton o’ egg whites (another not so appetizing chicken product) and it seems there are better and worse brands. I can’t remember which brand was good of course, so I’ll have to shop by intuition next time.

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